The San Miguel Beermen kicked off their Philippine Cup title defense on a high note, dispatching the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 104-96, in the league’s 43rd season opener on Sunday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo dominated for 23 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and four blocks to lead the defending champions’ deadly All-Filipino five which looked sharp from start to finish.
Alex Cabagnot added 22 points; Marcio Lassiter tallied 20 points, five boards and four assists; Chris Ross poured in 16 points, six boards and nine dimes; and Arwind Santos collected a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds to go along with three steals.
San Miguel showed no rust on the first day of the new season, starting things off with a blistering 8-0 run that stunned the new-look Phoenix which paraded its new coach Louie Alas.
The Fuel Masters woke up and stole the lead, 29-28, early in second period. The Beermen however launched a 19-8 run to end the first half with a 47-37 cushion.
San Miguel never looked back since then, building its biggest lead at 19 points to keep the Fuel Masters at bay.
SAN MIGUEL 104 – Fajardo 23, Cabagnot 22, Lassiter 20, Ross 16, Santos 14, Pessumal 5, Rosser 4, Heruela 0, Mamaril 0, Vigil 0, Agovida 0, Lanete 0, Mabulac 0.
PHOENIX 96 – Chan 18, Wright 12, Alolino 11, Chua 11, Wilson 11, Perkins 10, Dehesa 8, Kramer 6, Jazul 4, Intal 2, Eriobu 2, Revilla 1.
Quarters: 23-18, 47-37, 79-68, 104-96.